Board plans to start school in August again next year Labor Day sacrifice called worthwhile to finish early

October 16, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Carroll schools will continue to start the academic year before Labor Day, if the proposed calendar for 1999-2000 is adopted by the school board.

Students will return to school Aug. 23 -- two weeks before the traditional end-of-summer holiday -- and finish the year June 2, according to the calendar presented at Wednesday's board meeting.

Parents have criticized the early opening, saying it interferes with vacation plans and that students are uncomfortable in schools without air conditioning.

But board members say they support the proposed calendar.

"The reason I like the early start is it gets kids out in June," said board member Joseph D. Mish, a retired teacher.

"Post-Memorial Day teaching is the toughest teaching there is," Mish said. "In August, kids and teachers are fresh. Admittedly, it's a lot tougher in buildings without air conditioning."

However, Mish said a teacher told him that starting school two weeks before Labor Day was too early. The teacher told Mish that he had to leave his teaching position at a summer camp a week before it ended because he had to report for work when county schools opened Aug. 24 this year.

"That's a valid point and we'll have to look at it," Mish said. "The point is, I don't want school going into the third week in June."

Board member Gary Bauer said: "I believe in the early start. It's an inconvenience to some parents and students, but it gets them out earlier in June."

Parent Pam Hamburg of Westminster voiced her objections to the early start date at the meeting.

"I don't feel anyone is energized when they have to attend school in the heat and humidity and ride the bus in the same conditions," said Hamburg, who added that starting school before Labor Day cuts into prime summer vacation.

"Today's families have little enough time to spend together," she said.

Carroll County went to a pre-Labor Day school calendar five years ago, joining the growing number of school systems that have adopted early start dates.

The 180-day school calendar, with an extended summer break, is a holdover from the past, when children spent their summers working on family farms.

In his presentation to the board Wednesday, William Rooney, director of human resources for county schools, said that a committee of parents, teachers and administrators worked to develop the 1999-2000 calendar.

"The committee unanimously agreed that we should begin school the last full week in August and conclude the first week in June," said Rooney.

The proposed calendar, which might go before the board for final approval next month, calls for new teachers to report for orientation week Aug. 9. Elementary and middle school teachers would start the academic year Aug. 16, and high school teachers and instructional assistants would begin Aug. 17.

If the five snow days built into the calendar are unused, they will be added to spring break, scheduled from April 21-24. The board agreed to move the first unused snow day from April 25 to April 20, to accommodate Jewish students who wish to observe Passover.

Pub Date: 10/16/98

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